Henry Kissinger has told The Weekly Standard that Obama is kidding himself if he thinks Kissinger’s attitude toward engaging Iran is at variance with McCain’s:
“Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Senator John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.”
OK, so I’ll revise my original assessment slightly: there was at least one notable stumble. Hot Air goes into further detail, and Gateway Pundit points out the McCain called “shenanigans” right after Obama said it.
Ben Smith at Politico says that Obama fell back on abstract language when talking about “the visceral issues of war and peace.” Yeah, I picked up on that too. He was treading on that danger zone where he affects what many have called a “professorial” tone, making him look like an Adlai Stevenson-style egghead.
Smith does make a point I’m not so sure about:
McCain’s goal in the foreign policy debate, a smart operative points out, is to prove that Obama “doesn’t understand” foreign policy. Under one theory of this debate, Obama has a low bar, which is to prove a threshold competence on foreign policy.
Anybody who’s read my debate liveblog in the post before this one knows I don’t think Obama had a low bar, despite his campaign’s attempt to lower it by feeding a talking points memo to the New York Times beforehand saying…well, what a crappy debater he usually is. I do agree with the first sentence, however, and I think McCain got more mileage out of casting Obama as a foreign-policy naïf than Obama did out of any lowered expectations.
UPDATE: I’ve noticed that a bunch of livebloggers have had a much different reaction to Obama’s “I’ve got a bracelet too” riposte. I said it was an effective comeback to McCain’s “bracelet” schtick. However, since I sit at my desk with my back to the TV (turning around only intermittently), I didn’t see what Obama’s counter-schtick looked like. What I missed is that Obama blanked on the name of the solider the bracelet was supposed to commemorate, and had to check it while fumbling for the name (video here). OK, fair point…I can see how that would detract from the poignancy of the moment, yes.